Monday, December 31, 2012

What a break - Getting a Heisman Trophy winner to sign your cast

   It's no fun for any kid to be stuck in the hospital over the holidays, but this young man's stay at Scottish Rite Children's Hospital was made a little brighter Monday. Texas A&M quarterback and 2012 Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel took time to sign his cast during the team's visit.
   Johnny Football autographing your cast? Now that's something to smile about!

Oklahoma Monday practice report: Sooners work out in full pads

ARLINGTON, TEXAS – The No. 11 Oklahoma Sooners held their second practice in preparation for the 77th AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic inside Cowboys Stadium Monday afternoon.
The Sooners (10-2, 8-1 Big 12) worked out for just over two hours gearing up towards their showdown against No. 9 Texas A&M (10-2, 6-2 SEC). OU continued their typical in-season game week preparation with full speed and contact.
“Practice went really well, we did some work against each other kind of going fast,” Oklahoma Head Coach Bob Stoops said. “This is our regular Tuesday, which we’re in full pads during the season and a little longer practice. The guys handled it really well.”
Sooner players are still getting used to the magnitude of Cowboys Stadium. An exuberant atmosphere is expected Friday night for the showdown between the Big 12 Co-Champions and the Southeastern Conference’s newest member.
“You come in and you’re just looking around it’s like: “Wow!” junior WR Kenny Stills said. “Every time I come in there I’m just as excited as the first time.”
Former Oklahoma and Dallas Cowboy great Tony Casillas stopped by practice as the Sooners continued to follow their typical game-week buildup towards the Aggies.
Casillas was the Lombardi Award winner and an All-American in 1985, helping lead OU to the National Championship. He went on to win two Super Bowls with the Cowboys in 1992 and 1993. Casillas currently serves as a broadcast correspondent for Sooner Sports TV ( providing live post-practice
Monday night, the Sooners will attend a special private party at the Main Event in Grapevine. New Years Day the Sooners Defensive Coordinator Mike Stoops and select players will meet with the media at the Omni Mandalay Hotel in Las Colinas.

Texas A&M Monday practice report: Aggies move indoors

DALLAS – With the rainy weather in the Metroplex, the No. 9 Texas A&M Aggies took their New Year’s Eve practice indoors to Highland Park High School.
The Aggies got a surprise to start practice with current Los Angles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw, who was completing a workout at the place where he starred in high school, on hand to greet the team. The Dallas native turned down a scholarship to play baseball at Texas A&M in 2006 when the Dodgers selected him as the seventh overall pick in the MLB Draft.
With the pleasantries aside, A&M got to work with an exuberant, 90-minute practice that head coach Kevin Sumlin called a traditional “Tuesday” practice at the same facility used by the Green Bay Packers for Super Bowl XLV.
“We were able to get focused here today,” said Sumlin. “It’s a great practice facility here at Highland Park; appreciate Coach (Randy) Allen letting us come over here today. Our guys were focused and there was a lot of energy today.”
Sumlin said his team is going to need all the energy it can muster to defeat the Co-Big 12 Conference Champions and No. 11-ranked Oklahoma Sooners (10-2, 8-1 Big 12).
“They’re a solid football team. They have great skill on the outside with an experienced player in Kenny Stills and have a big, strong offensive line as usual. Defensively, their strength is their secondary with a lot of great athletes back there.”
Following practice, the Aggies took their focus away from the field for a special visit to meet and greet patients and their families at the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital. Monday night, the team was scheduled to enjoy the final day of 2012 with a private team event at Main Event in Lewisville.
Texas A&M gets back to work on New Year’s Day with a second practice at Highland Park. Earlier in the morning, the Aggies’ offensive players, along with Sumlin, will have their interview session with the media at the Omni Mandalay Hotel in Irving. Attending for A&M will be juniors OT Luke Joeckel and RB Ben Malena, redshirt freshman QB Johnny Manziel and seniors WR Uzoma Nwachukwu and WR Ryan Swope. Sumlin will be subbing for former offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury, who departed the team to become the head coach at Texas Tech.

Back where it all began for OU's Landry Jones

   Cowboys Stadium is where Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones began his college career and Friday is where he will end it.
   Back in 2009, Jones relieved an injured Heisman Trophy winner, Sam Bradford. Now he will be playing against one in Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel.
   Jones chuckled when told that Manziel, a redshirt freshman, recalled watching Jones play for the Sooners while he was still in high school.
   "I'm the old man around this place," Jones said. "It feels like it."
   Jones was a redshirt freshman himself when he subbed in for Bradford back on Sept. 5, 2009 when he subbed in for Bradford, who had suffered a shoulder injury. That game was the first regular season contest at the newly opened stadium - before even the Dallas Cowboys had played an official home game there.
   Jones couldn't keep the Sooners from avoiding a 14-13 upset to BYU that day. But the next season he quarterbacked Oklahoma to a 23-20 win over Nebraska at Cowboys Stadium in the 2010 Big 12 Championship.
   "It did start here," Jones said. "There's always good feelings on this field, and just remembering how your career started and where you came from. It's exciting to be back here and we're excited to play."

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Where's the Beef? It's at Lawry's

Oklahoma players indulged in some mouth-watering prime rib on Sunday night as part of the annual Lawry's Beef Bowl, a staple of the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic festivities.

While players can eat as much prime rib as they want, in recent years they've been discouraged from over-doing it by their coaches - it makes practice go smoother the next day when their stomachs aren't swelled up! Still, there's always a few players who amaze everyone by how much beef they can inhale.

Texas A&M players will get the Beef Bowl treatment on Tuesday night.

After the Beef Bowl, both teams were treated to the Dallas Mavericks game against the San Antonio Spurs at American Airlines Center.

Texas A&M Sunday Practice Report

Dallas – The No. 9 Texas A&M Aggies got back to football basics for their first practice for the 77th AT&T
Cotton Bowl Classic.
Under brisk outdoor conditions, the Aggies donned full pads for a nearly 60-minute workout on the practice
field adjacent to Ford Stadium on the SMU campus. The spirit of the 12th Man was in full force as a swarm of Texas A&M fans welcomed the squad prior to its first workout in preparation to take on the No. 11 Oklahoma Sooners (10-2, 8-1 Big 12 Conference).
“I thought we had great energy at practice. With all the fans and spectators that were here, I was kind of shocked at the number of people that were here. I thought that created some energy for us too,” said head coach Kevin Sumlin. “We bounced around and weren’t out here very long but that’s kind of the way we’ve done things up to this point.”
The practice was a return of sorts as Ford Stadium was the site of the team’s first win of the 2012 season, a 48-3 victory over SMU. That win sparked a five-game winning streak before a 24-19 loss to LSU on Oct.20.
A&M rebounded from that defeat to go another five-game winning streak to close the season.
Two former Aggies players, Rod Harris and Ken Reeves, were among those watching the A&M workout. Harris was an All-Southwest Conference performer who starred for A&M in 1985-89 and Reeves played in College Station from 1981-84. The team capped off practice in celebratory fashion with happy birthday wishes and a Gatorade bath for defensive coordinator Mark Snyder.
Snyder, junior DE Damontre Moore and seniors DL Spencer Nealy, LB Sean Porter, LB Jonathan Stewart and DB Steven Terrell will conduct an interview session with the media Monday morning at the Omni Mandalay Hotel in Irving. A&M is back on the practice field later in the day with a traditional “Tuesday” practice session at Highland Park High School in nearby University Park.

Oklahoma Sunday Practice Report

Arlington, Texas – The 11th ranked Oklahoma Sooners began their AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic preparations at Cowboys Stadium today as they looked ahead to a matchup with the No. 9 Texas A&M Aggies.
Spirited music filled the air as the Sooners (10-2, 8-1 Big 12) held a two-hour practice in shorts and shoulder pads.
Earlier in the day, Head Coach Bob Stoops and select players met with the media to talk about the upcoming matchup with the Aggies and getting back into the groove after the holiday break.
“I feel good in that we have healed up a little bit from some of the sprained ankles and some of the injuries we’d had through the year that we’ve kind of managed and worked through,” Stoops said.
Texas A&M will bring Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel into the Classic, but OU will counter with their own decorated leader in senior QB Landry Jones. Jones returns to the site of his first game action, when he took over for an injured Sam Bradford against BYU in 2009.
“Landry has been a very steady and excellent football player for us for four years. He’s been through a lot of games and a lot of challenges,” Stoops said. “Down the stretch for us he’s been fabulous.”
The Sooners finished the season with a five-game winning streak, claiming a share of their eighth Big 12 Championship. Over that streak, Jones has thrown for 1,980 yards and 17 touchdowns.

Eatin' and Greetin' - AT&T Cotton Bowl style

More pictures from Saturday night's Welcome Dinner. At times it was hard to figure out which line was longer: the one for the buffet  - or the one to have pictures taken with Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders and the Super Bowl Trophy.

Members of the Kilgore Rangerettes drill team were also on hand to usher the guests into Cowboys Stadium.

QBs captured on canvas

Part of the fun of Saturday night's welcome dinner was watching speed painter Dan Dunn craft portraits of OU quarterback Landry Jones and Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel. Dunn painted - from start to finish - the portraits and another of the stadium while the teams ate.

Which one do you think turned out better?

Festivities begin with the annual Welcome Dinner at Cowboys Stadium

Pictured above is the Texas A&M team filing into the dining area for the annual AT&T Cotton Bowl Welcome Dinner on Saturday night at Cowboys Stadium. The teams were treated to a gourmet buffet and entertainment, then moved to the 50 yard line to watch videos of their seasons on the stadium's gigantic video screen.

Not a bad way to kick off the week!

Hey! Check those press passes!

Apparently, some of the questions at Sunday's AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic Media Day were getting a little tedious, so a couple of the players took over the microphones. Oklahoma defensive back Tony Jefferson conducted a groundbreaking interview with receiver Kenny Stills, while Texas A&M defensive lineman Spencer Nealy grills head coach Kevin Sumlin. (photos by Ian Halperin/CBAA)